Upon its first release on the Nintendo DS in 2009, Konami's LovePlus sparked a national sensation in Japan. A new and friendlier approach to the "girl" genre, the game let you choose a virtual girlfriend, then enjoy a steady relationship with her in realtime on your DS: going out on dates (supported by in-game AR functionality) and engaging in the sorts of silly conversations. It wound up selling a quarter of a million copies in Japan (a huge number for the genre) and inspired a number of revised versions, including the more recent New LovePlus on the DS.
Now producer Akari Uchida is ready to reveal a new sequel for the series, but, to the chagrin of some hardcore LovePlus fans in Asia, it's a social game on mobile devices.
"Our mission with LovePlus is to provide a casual story and characters that everyone can get close with," he told Famitsu magazine. "As we've proceeded with the series, though, aspects of it inevitably got more core-oriented and created hurdles for gamers to overcome, which is a regret of mine. So while we thought of ways to expand on the game's accessibility, we thought about the sort of social content that Konami is good at."
At its core, the new LovePlus Collection is a card-trading game, much like a lot of Konami's other hits in Asia (the biggest of which is Dragon Collection, which is more traditional fantasy-themed). "The biggest difference from the console version is that you're able to touch upon all the charms of the girls in a very easy manner," explained Uchida. "In a way, though the motifs of dating and school life, you're getting little bite-sized insights on their charms. You'll be working with your friends in-game to live with them, create assorted memories, and collect those in the form of cards; that's the main idea."
What's more, there's a brand-new girl for you to go out with, a fourth addition to the roster after Manaka, Nene and Rinko from the original. The unnamed new entry is "a bit of an impish, mischievous girl," said character designer Taro Mino. "She'll surprise you in an impactful way during conversations, so I think your impression of her will change from when you first see her. She wasn't as hard to come up with as the original three, but drawing out her face proved very difficult. I kind of feel like I've exhausted my supply of 'cute' facial structures, so I had trouble figuring out how to make her unique. I look forward to seeing how new users react to her."
LovePlus Collection is slated to come out mid-March on smartphones and feature phones in Japan. "Hopefully series fans will enjoy playing around with this in a kind of spinoff way," Uchida said, "while new users get an opportunity to know these girls better. If they like what they experience and decide to go meet the girls over on the portable versions, I couldn't be happier."